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Day 3 – Still No Bags

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

Just a quick post…I still have no luggage and I’m going on my third day here in Anchorage.  Thanks, United Airlines.  And of course my coat, medication and work-related papers are in my suitcase (along with ALL of my other necessities).

And I got to experience another joy – I got to plunge my own toilet.  Apparently the Fairfield Inn is a high class establishment – call and say that your toilet is clogged and they send up a man with a plunger.  “Just leave it outside your door when you’re done.”

Not only that, but I was just blow drying my hair (using the hotel blow dryer, obviously) and the blow dryer ATE a large chunk of my hair.  There’s a fan on the back of the blow dryer and a chunk of my hair got stuck in the fan – the dryer actually stopped running as the hair got wrapped around it.  Seems like a poor desgin to me!  So I had to turn off the dryer and pull the chunk of hair out, ripping it as it pulled out.  Now I have a large hole in my hair, a sore scalp and the yummy smell of burning hair filling my hotel room.

Sigh…

 
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My Alaskan “Adventures”

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 12, 2008 in Family Stuff, Uncategorized

Well, I made it to Alaska – but BARELY – and I’m traveling VERY lightly.  There were some major weather problems in Philadelphia that caused a delay – that, along with other happenings on my flight made it one of the more interesting flights I’ve been on in a long time.

I knew that bad weather was forecasted for our area, but it was supposed to hold off until the afternoon – and my flight was scheduled to depart at 11:30.  But just as we were boarding, the storms started to come through. 

They let us board the plane, but then we sat at the gate for about 45 minutes due to the frequent lightening crashing all around us.  Apparently, whenever there is a lightening strike within 5 miles of the airport, the plane must wait 10 minutes before pushing back – not that all of us sitting in a large metal object were safer, mind you – it was the ground crew that they were protecting.

I wasn’t too worried – after all, I had a 2 ½ hour layover in Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

We finally rolled out onto the tarmac – good news.  Bad news – air traffic suspended all flights leaving out of Philadelphia headed west because of the line of storms.

So there we sat – on the plane with the engines shut down – waiting for the storms to clear.  By the way, one of the air traffic strategies was to send out a ‘guinea pig’ plane to report back as to how bad the weather is.  How would you like to be on THAT flight?

I called and checked in with my other traveling co-workers that were scheduled to take different flights – we were all pretty much in the same boat…it’s just that I was lucky enough to actually be on the plane.

I was relieved when the attractive man sitting next to me struck up a conversation – something to kill the time at least (by the way, we remained on the tarmac in the thunderstorm for over 2 hours!!!!)  The conversation started out like a normal chat-with-the-person-sitting-next-to-you-on-an-airplane would – where are you going?  Business or vacation?  Blah, blah, blah.  He started to show me some photos on his cell-phone – pictures of his kids and wife – a little more personal, but just friendly at that point.  Then we started to talk about age…he was 3 years younger than me but his wife was 4 years older than me.  I mentioned turning how hard it is for a woman to turn 40…and he started talking about his wife going through menopause…a little more personal…but still innocent enough.

Until…he started asking me if I had any menopausal symptoms yet.  I hesitantly told him that I’d had endometriosis…and he asked if I’d had a hysterectomy.  I hesitated some more, but admitted that yes, I had a hysterectomy a few years ago (a little too personal at this point) – then he asked if I had any issues with my sex drive.  Now he’d crossed the line from chit-chat to therapy session…can’t airplanes fly through lightening anyway?

But there was more…after I kind of turned away and pretended to be VERY interested in my book, he asked me about my marriage – was it in good shape?  No, really – was I in a good marriage?  I assured him that I was – I think it was at this point that the little boy in the row in front of me threw up all over his mother – and my purse.  I’m not sure if I was relieved or not…hmmm…the sight and smell of vomit vs. a very uncomfortable conversation…tough call. 

After the vomit was cleaned up as best it could be while in a stationary airplane in a thunderstorm waiting to take off (the flight attendants were worried that if they spent too much time on it, we might miss our opportunity to take off), he turned to me and asked what I thought of the John Edwards situation (Mr. Edwards was in the news this weekend for admitting that he had an affair) – he wanted to know if I thought he really did anything wrong.  What?  Was I actually having this conversation?  Did this guy think I was a therapist?  Or was he actually coming on to me (I highly doubt it!)?   I assured him that yes, I thought that having an affair was indeed a bad thing to do. 

Fortunately, the plane took off not too long after that and Mr. Too-Many-Personal-Questions started to do some work on his laptop.

When we landed in Chicago, I had 15 minutes to run to make my connection to Anchorage.  Mr.  Too-Many-Personal-Questions asked if I wanted his cell number in case I got stuck at the airport (he had already missed his connection) – I told him that I was sure I was going to make it, thank you very much.  And I did make it after running like OJ Simpson (pre-murder) through the airport. 

And I’m lucky that I made the connection – it turns out that we were the last flight to land in Anchorage because of the volcanic eruption.  That’s right – the VOLCANIC eruption.  It filled the sky with ash which apparently can do major damage to plane engines (like make them stop running – a fact that I’m glad I was unaware of while I was in the plane in the middle of the ash cloud).  For the rest of the evening and most of today, all flights in and out of Anchorage were cancelled – several of my co-workers got stuck in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City as a result (and they were already delayed due to the weather in Philadelphia – what a great day to fly!).

So yes – I made it…but unfortunately, my bags did not.  Apparently I can make a 15 minute connection but baggage cannot.  And since there were no more flights in and out of Anchorage…my bags are having a lovely holiday in Chicago.

I needed to restock all of my toiletries since I had no idea of when the volcanic ash would clear and I also needed something to wear to work the next day.  And of course it was Sunday night and the only store open was…WalMart.  I had to have my project lead drive me to scour the aisles of WalMart looking for something somewhat presentable to wear to work the next day since he had the only rental car.  And of course, the only shoes I had were my most awful beat-up, worn-in sandals that I wore on the plane – I only wore them because they are so comfortable, but they are SO not work appropriate. 

 But I tried to work with them and picked up a plain pair of khaki capris and button-down cotton shirt – I was quite the fashion-plate with my WalMart mismatched outfit and disgusting sandals at work today!   Since I had no clean clothes I also had to pick up underwear…which my program manager held  for me as I frantically ran through the aisles picking up other personal products (my male project lead smartly excused himself to the front of the store at this point).   I guess this is one way to really bond with your co-workers!   By the time I checked out, I ended up spending $90 at WalMart on toiletries and my sad outfit – and that was just for one day…

And of course, my hair did not hold up so well without my usual hair-products – I just did not feel like myself at all today.  Yesterday I laughed it all off but by the end of today, I was really starting to feel out of sorts and on the verge of tears.  I went back to the mall and went into the Gap this time for an outfit more my style, but still had no pajamas, no other shoes and none of my other stuff! 

I think when we travel, we use the items that we bring with us to bring us some comfort and help us feel at home wherever we are.  Without that, I feel like a bit like a gypsy – a gypsy with awful shoes and bad hair.

The good news is that I just got off the phone with the airline – they have found my bags in Chicago and will hopefully ship them to me tomorrow morning.  And I may be reimbursed for some of my expenses…which would really help out.

So looking back, I think I’ve seen most of the seven plagues so far this trip – thunder and lightening storm, little boy vomit, volcanic eruption, lost bags, annoying airline passenger…I think all that’s left are locusts, right?

Here’s hoping I see a suitcase show up soon…

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